Let my love look like you and what you're made of
How you lived, how you died
Love is sacrifice
I have heard my son singing this song at random times to himself lately. He is mindlessly repeating lyrics heard while riding in the back seat of the car. If he only knew how often God uses his sweet voice to speak directly to my heart.
That is my desire. For my life in this marriage and family to be the proof of God's love. That it might reflect his love and what he is made of. That is would be defined by sacrifice and would model the life and death of Jesus. I so long for this and God knows my heart because he put that desire there.
A few months ago God had me join a Bible study with the ladies in our church reading a book by Judi Rossi called Enhancing Your Marriage. It has been SO good and SO hard at the same time. At the start of the book God revealed to me that there was in fact a core sin in our relationship that all the other issues really revolved around and were attached to. For years we were busy putting Band-Aids on a gushing wound only addressing the symptoms. Eventually the bleeding spilled into many other areas of our relationship and really couldn't be stopped. We created a hot infected mess for ourselves.
Not long after that, My Love and I joined a Life Group which is doing a study focused on marriage. And the two of us are still working on Sacred Marriage on our own (reading and discussing together one chapter a month). It seemed clear that God had us focused on our relationship and through all of this study and looking in his word he opened our eyes to our own ongoing sins.
It has been overwhelming at times. God has allowed many topics to rise to the surface so that he can work them out. He is asking us to let go of the pain and resentment and trust that his plan for our marriage is better than what we have created ourselves.
Cue job transition. My Love is home. For a long time. At first I really struggled with the thought of him impeding on this little day time routine I have created for my kiddos and me. I asked close friends to pray over that fear with me as his separation from active duty drew closer. A funny thing happened. The fear was lifted. The desire for control faded and despite what I will share next, we have really been treasuring these many weeks carved out by God to share as a family during this season of life. There are times when I have to maintain stability for the kids (particularly our son who is like me in this way) so they can predict some parts of their day. Other days we throw caution to the wind and go on adventures or run errands. Yesterday the Bundles joined My Love in the back yard right after breakfast to help him dig holes for planting trees while I stayed inside and cleaned house in peace. It was a precious time for us all. This morning My Love took Brother out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel for some time to connect as guys. I can't imagine there being another opportunity to live this moment again when they are this small. The gifts abound and we aren't letting the Enemy steal the moments from us. My friend asked me tonight what we were doing on the weekend. "Every day is a weekend for us," I said with a smile. It really feels that way.
So remember a minute again when I said that God has brought topics to the surface and kept them boiling through the process of keeping our minds set on his plan for marriage? Well imagine living with two boiling pots 24/7. Fires we sparking all over the place because frankly we were both raw and exposed and on edge at the state of our marriage.
Monday morning came the breaking point. Angry hurtful words were flung in both directions and for the first time I felt hopeless to pull us out of the gutter we had found ourselves in. To be honest, you can't make another person try. You can't take away another person's expectations of you. And you can't point out their sin to them in a way that will pierce their heart and make them want to repent. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO IT! PERIOD! I had a vision of living like this forever and didn't see how that would be emotionally possible. I felt drained. During the "intense fellowship" (as a pastor called arguments in his marriage at our retreat last weekend...was that really only last weekend? It has been a LONG week.), I heard a ding on my phone downstairs. Of course I didn't leave the situation then but later picked myself up after crying behind a closed bathroom door and went to retrieve my phone before returning to my hide out. You know who showed up at just the very moment that I felt the most helpless in my marriage? GOD! He showed up big time. He always does. He is there in the midst of the storm and he whispers to us not to give up and to keep fighting the good fight. He reminds us of his many promises and he gives us words that we can cling to in his word when we don't feel like we have a place to put our foot on. A friend text me the verse I shared from Job 23:10. She had no idea what I was in the middle of at that moment. I burst into louder tears over how much God loves me. He loves me so much that he has led me by the hand to and through this season for his good purpose and he still holds my hand. He squeezes it every once in awhile and reminds me that even though the Enemy wants me to think I am alone I never am. He is with me in the pain and the sorrow and the tears just as much as he is in the new house purchase and beautiful babies and money in the bank.
The line my friend (who is going through the same Bible study I am) shared after the scripture reference was, "Trust the fire of affliction will not consumer you." I wept because in that moment before I read it I thought I might actually burn up. But the Lord was there. He prevented me from slipping into despair and really showed me that I had to find myself in the gutter before I could really surrender to him for all he has planned for my marriage.
Things have been looking up.
In fact we have both me amazed since then how covered in prayer we feel. The sparks keep coming up (I mean we are together every day, people) but for the first time ever we are repenting to each other almost immediately afterward because it is the Lord who is convicting our hearts. It has been overwhelming to watch the beginning of healing and prayer has been a big part of that so THANK YOU. God is good.
I hope that cleared up the vagueness for some of you who have had heavy hearts on our behalf lately. Thank you for all the loving emails and texts telling me you are praying for my marriage and family. I NEVER thought I would be able to say this before but even while still in this storm I am thankful for it. To watch how God has orchestrated so much to bring us to this point. How he made it so My Love would be home for 78 days during this season. I mean, who has 78 days of leave to use? He made it so the pots would be boiling and then he put us in the room and said "deal with it". Oh how thankful I am. God knows what is for us right around the corner and he chose for this time to be spent on strengthening our marriage and allowing him to form it into what he wants us to be. He also felt this was the time we were ready to see it to victory with him. Maybe before now we would have failed. We were failing. But this is the time to conquer the root sin because Christ already did it for us. I have been in constant prayer for a dear, dear friend who is beginning her foster care journey this week. I am so thankful that I know just how to pray for her specifically but I am also selfishly thankful that God has not started that journey for us quite yet. We thought we were ready. We weren't. But he is working in us and the burning desire to open our home and perhaps adopt has not be extinguished. His ways are not our ways and oh how thankful I am for that.
So where are we now? My Love and I have decided to commit some time to prayer and seeking God's word individually to really glean what God commands of us. It might take some time but really there are so many areas of our marriage that we are flat out disobeying him in and we want to make a plan of his desires for our relationship. I am talking things as simple as be kind (yes I need to work on that) and as complicated as submission (which isn't really hard to understand as a believer just difficult to walk out with a personality like mine). My Love will obviously be seeking God on ways his Creator wants him to obey him according to scripture. Because once again people we can not be the voice of the Holy Spirit to our spouse no matter how hard we try or how in tune with God we think we are. Pride anyone? At this point we are just sick of the cycles and living in this rut. And once again I am thankful that God brought us to a place where we are disgusted by our own sin and know that obedience is all he wants from us. It is time to break free in Christ and FULLY TRUST who we know him to be and learn to obey him in ALL things. Especially because we feel strongly that the seasons ahead of us will require obedience so we can be fully used by God.
Keep praying dear ones. There is power in prayer and we literally feel them.
Let my life be the proof, the proof of your love
Let my love look like you and what you're made of
How you lived, how you died
Love is sacrifice